Don’t take your eyes off the road. Obviously, it’s good advice, but it doesn’t speak to your other senses. For example, think about the amount of work your ears are doing when you’re driving. You’re using your ears to connect with other people in your vehicle, call your attention to important information coming up on your dashboard, and help you track other vehicles.
So when you experience hearing impairment, the way you drive can change. That’s not to say your driving will become prohibitively dangerous. With regards to safety, inexperience and distracted driving are much bigger liabilities. Nevertheless, some specific safeguards should be taken by individuals with hearing loss to ensure they keep driving as safely as possible.
Hearing loss can impact your situational awareness but acquiring safe driving habits can help you remain a safe driver.
How hearing loss may be affecting your driving
Vision is the primary sense used when driving. Even full-blown hearing loss most likely won’t stop you from driving, but it very likely may change how you drive. While driving you do utilize your hearing a lot, after all. Here are some typical examples:
- If has any damage, your sense of hearing can let you know. For instance, if you run over an obstruction in the road or a rock hits your windshield.
- Your sense of hearing can help you have better awareness of other vehicles around you. You will typically be able to hear an oncoming truck, for instance.
- Audible alerts will sound when your vehicle is trying to alert you to something, such as an unbuckled seat belt or an open door.
- If another motorist needs to make you aware of their presence, they will usually use their horn. If you fail to notice the light turn to green, for instance, or you begin to wander into the other lane, a horn can get your attention before it becomes a problem.
- Emergency vehicles can usually be heard before they can be seen.
All of these audio cues can help develop your total situational awareness. As your hearing loss advances, you may miss more and more of these cues. But you can take some positive steps to keep your driving as safe as possible.
Developing new safe driving habits
If you’re dealing with hearing loss and you want to continue to drive, that’s okay! Here are some ways you can be certain to remain safe while driving:
- Keep the noise inside your car to a minimum: Hearing loss is going to make it difficult for your ears to separate noises. When the wind is blowing and your passengers are speaking, it might become easy for your ears to grow overstimulated, which can cause fatigue and distraction. So roll up your window, turn down the music, and keep the talking to a minimum when driving.
- Pay extra attention to your mirrors: Even with sirens blaring, you may not hear that ambulance coming up behind you. So make sure you aren’t neglecting your mirrors. And generally try to keep an elevated awareness for emergency vehicles.
- Keep your phone stowed: Even if your hearing is good, this one is still good advice. Phones are among the leading causes of distraction on the road today. And that doubles when you attempt to use them with hearing loss. You will simply be safer when you put your phone away and it could save your life.
- Keep an eye on your dash lights.: usually, when you need to give attention to your instrument panel, your vehicle will beep or make some other sound. So regularly glance down to see if any dash lights are on.
Keeping your hearing aid road ready
If you have hearing loss, driving is one of those instances where wearing a hearing aid can really help. And there are several ways you can be certain your hearing aid is a real asset when you’re driving:
- Get the most recent updates and keep your hearing aid charged and clean: You don’t want your hearing aid batteries to die right in the middle of a drive to the store. That can be distracting and possibly even dangerous. So keep your batteries charged and ensure everything’s in working order.
- Each time you drive, wear your hearing aid: It won’t help you if you don’t use it! So be sure you’re using your hearing aids every time you drive. By doing this, your brain will have an easier time acclimating to the incoming signals.
- Ask us for a “driving” setting: If you anticipate doing a fair amount of driving, you can ask us to give you a “car” setting on your hearing aid. The size of the inside of your vehicle and the fact that your passengers will be talking to you from the side or rear will be the factors we will use to optimize this “car setting” for easier safer driving.
Lots of individuals with hearing loss keep driving and hearing aids make the process easier and safer. Developing good driving habits can help guarantee that your drive is pleasant and that your eyes stay safely on the road.